While tempura is considered quintessentially Japanese, this dish actually arrived in Japan via the Portuguese during the 16th century! Today, tempura is one of the most beloved dishes in the national cuisine, and Kyoto has its own fair share of great tempura spots.
Tempura in Kyoto: Nishihama / Shutterstock.com
You might wonder if there’s a limit to what one can do with battered and deep-fried seafood and vegetables. The sky is truly the limit: tempura meals can range from delightfully pedestrian, greasy spoon affairs to utterly refined multi-course dinners and everything in between. The batter can be light and crispy, or pack a punch with a good swig of sauce on top. Whatever your preference, there’s a tempura restaurant out there for you.
This is our selection of tempura spots in Kyoto. Not only are they generally friendly and approachable, they have English-language menus as well.
- Kyo Tominokoji Tempura Yoshikawa (Downtown Kyoto; expensive)
Yoshikawa Tempura serves Kyoto’s best tempura in a beautiful old wooden building built around a sublime Japanese garden.
- Tempura Endo Yasaka (Southern Higashiyama; expensive)
How many tempura places can you name that have been in business for more than 100 years? Tempura Endo Yasaka has been deep-frying food with flair for the last century – with tempura this good, it’s no wonder they’re still around.
- Tenyu (Downtown Kyoto; expensive)
Fresh ingredients superbly deep-fried in crisp batter – what’s not to like about tempura? Tenyu near Kyotoshiyakushomae Station has some of the best in Kyoto. Head over there to have your idea of tempura redefined.
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Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)